Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences digitally addressed the virtual Curtain Raiser Ceremony by ICMR-National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, at Jabalpur as a part of 6th India International Science Festival 2020 (IISF 2020).
The 6th IISF‐2020 is being organized by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA).
Delivering the address, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “IISF, launched in 2015, has always been about showcasing the progress of science and its application for the betterment of the lives of our people. It is indeed a privilege to preside over this Curtain Raiser Ceremony being organized by the ICMR-NIRTH, Jabalpur.”
Expressing his happiness that the ICMR – NIRTH, Jabalpur is the only institute wholly dedicated to biomedical research on health and social issues related to the tribal population, he noted, “The tribes represent a unique and colourful segment of the Indian culture. Our tribals lead a lifestyle with beliefs, customs, values & traditions that are in sync with nature. This lifestyle pattern which doesn’t defy nature grants them an enhanced immunity against various diseases. However, it is a matter of concern that our tribal population today suffers from a high prevalence of malnutrition, genetic disorders and infectious diseases.”
He continued, “Often residing in hard to reach areas with difficult terrains, our tribal population has had inequitable access to benefits of our significant advancements in science, technology as well as public health services.”
Dr Vardhan emphasized that the health and well-being of the tribal population is of utmost importance to the government. “We have been taking a slew of measures in this regard. In 2018, an expert committee constituted jointly by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Tribal Affairs, identified 10 major concerns that need immediate attention for the wellbeing of tribes & started working towards it”, he added.
The Union Minister congratulated ICMR for its extraordinary contribution in bio-medical research. Applauding ICMR-NIRTH, Jabalpur for developing indigenous strategies for strengthening the health services in the unreached areas, he noted, “ICMR-NIRTH has successfully demonstrated PPP models for reduction of tuberculosis among Saharia tribes and reduction in cases of malaria in the tribal district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh. This prestigious institution has developed strategies for controlling prevalence of fluoride, anaemia and inherited hemoglobinopathies like sickle-cell disease among tribal populations.” The experience learnt in all these efforts will be of immense help not only for researchers and academicians but also for policy makers for improving health of the marginalized sections of our population, he added.
Dr Vardhan invited everyone to participate in IISF-2020 which is going to be held virtually from December 22nd to December 25th, 2020. “The India International science festival provides a platform for cross-pollination of ideas that will lead to better policy making to help improve the quality of living of our people. I invite budding researchers & scientists to join this unique platform and help bridge the gap between science and society”, he said.
Dr Samiran Panda, Director and scientist G, Jayant Sahasrabudhe National Organizing Secretary, Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), Dr Aparup Das, Director, ICMR-NIRTH, Jabalpur, other senior scientists and their teams were present at the event.